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Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Pentagon Not Evacuated Prior to Being Hit

Before the Pentagon is hit, no steps are taken to alert or evacuate the building’s 20,000 employees. Even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his top aides are reportedly unaware of a rogue plane heading toward Washington prior to the attack there. [ABC News, 9/16/2001; Newsday, 9/23/2001; Vogel, 2007, pp. 429] Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood will later try to explain why the Pentagon is not evacuated at this time, saying: “To call for a general evacuation, at that point, it would have been just guessing. We evacuate when we know something is a real threat to us.” He says that an evacuation could have put employees at risk by moving them outside the protection provided by the building’s walls. Another Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski, will add, “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.” [Newsday, 9/23/2001] Yet, as early as 9:21, the FAA warned the military of a hijacked aircraft heading toward Washington (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The National Military Command Center (NMCC), located inside the Pentagon, was aware of this hijacked aircraft by 9:30, according to the 9/11 Commission (see 9:29 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 26 and 37; Vogel, 2007, pp. 429] The New York Times will in fact report that, since shortly before 9:00 a.m., “military officials in [the NMCC] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/2001] The order to evacuate will only go out over the Pentagon’s public address system shortly after the building is hit. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 137-138] The Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon, does not order that the building’s threat level be raised until the time when it is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 151-152]

Entity Tags: Vic Warzinski, Glenn Flood, Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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